Climbing is an activity that people can do at any level and disability needn't be seen as a barrier to participation. This article, written by Graeme Hill of the BMC Equity Steering Group, is about two climbers who have learning disabilities and are working on the NICAS achievement scheme.
Marc Moss and Peter Maxwell are Rochdale residents who have been taking themselves to Climb Rochdale on a weekly basis for the last four years. Both of them have made it an essential part of their life and have shown vast improvements in their climbing skills and fitness levels. This sounds just like any other person's climbing experience. However both Marc and Peter have a learning disability. Jobs such as travelling on public transport, handling money, communicating with the public and learning the skills for climbing pose a much bigger challenge.
Climb Rochdale who have been very active in encouraging disabled people into their facility have provided a very supportive environment for Marc and Peter to become climbers in their own right. Since the emergence of the National Indoor Climbing Achievement Scheme (NICAS) Marc and Peter have also been able to join in with a national achievement scheme to help develop thier skills. Now, both Peter and Mark have passed level 1 and Peter is soon to pass level 2.
Climb Rochdale, being one of the NICAS primary centres, has worked with Disability Sports Specialist, James Gilligan exploring different ways of delivering the course and adapting to Marc and Peter’s abilities. As part of this work James has been in regular contact with Guy Jarvis of NICAS who has also supported work.
Discussions are currently in progress over the possibility of putting together a set of guidelines which would assist other providers and instructors in supporting disabled people through the NICAS scheme.
This work also reflects the continued efforts of the BMC, and Mountain Leader Training bodies in their efforts to seek to remove barriers to paricipation in climbing and mountaineering that under-represented groups may face.
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